#10 Year Challenge: Running today - opportunities for the future

As part of the National Running Show 2020, our Head of Operations, Dan Isherwood, led an insightful talk, sharing fascinating facts on how the running market has evolved, what we expect from our fitness and where we are headed in the future.

Here we take a look at what the stats all mean… and opportunities for the future… 

Although the running market has grown and there are opportunities to help it to grow further over the next decade; the market faces some challenges to ensure continued growth actually happens.

England Athletics runs a nationally representative market research tracker of the running market, which has now captured data from nearly 50,000 people since May 2016. We have used this data alongside information from Sport England and other partners to identify five key areas we believe the running sector needs to focus on, to ensure the next 10 years are as positive as the last.

Here’s an insight into the 5 focus areas for the future…

  1. It’s slowing down

What this means: Over the past 12 months there are signs that the 7 million regular runners is plateauing.

Steps we can take: The goal is to recognise why – unrealistic goal setting, lack of planning, injury and kit choice all contribute to drop-out and can be addressed. Plus, we need to understand why runners want to take up the sport – perhaps as a personal challenge, or the need to find reassurance and balance; it could be holistic wellbeing and escapism, or the alleviation of guilt – continue to focus on what people want.

Click this link to watch our short video on the 6 types of runners – which type of runner are you?

Our goal is to make running appeal to those that are considering it and we’ve got lots of amazing groups and clubs happy to support you on your way.

Click this link to find running groups and clubs near you

Click this link for running support, tips and advice

  1. Social barriers

What this means: Running is still dominated by those on higher incomes and despite its ease of access, still has a way to go become genuinely inclusive.

Steps we can take: Put simply, more needs to be done to make running acceptable to everybody; cost is an issue, but the lack of groups and location also plays a role.

We’re actively recruiting more people of all experience levels and backgrounds to become Run Leaders, Coaches and Officials to help develop and grow our sport. Interested in getting involved? Click this link to find out more about our qualifications and courses.

  1. Connecting people

What this means: 43% of potential runners ‘do not have anyone to go with’, while 50% of those who run alone would like to run with other people and 40% of those who run informally with other people would like to join a group.

Steps we can take: Capitalise on great initiatives such as parkrun and RunTogether. The mental health benefits are proven, and people are more likely to stay running if they start running with others.

Find out more about RunTogether and join us on a group run – a great way to meet and make friends

  1. Environmentally friendly 

What this means: Becoming more sustainable is a challenge for everybody.

Steps we can take: Think about kit and where it comes from; promote running as an efficient way to commute; get behind environmentally friendly initiatives such as water provision at races. Runners are reacting well to this so it’s a perfect time to move forward.

  1. Personalise the journey 

What this means: People want something that feels personal to their running journey.

Steps we can take: Personalised guides, training plans, nutrition/injury prevention advice and expert coaching are all potential opportunities for the market.

We have lots of tips and advice on our website – take a look.

Take part in group and club sessions to get that specialist knowledge and support – find groups and clubs near you


Supporting information and download

Click here to view and download the #10 Year Challenge document – pdf 886KB